The Lenovo Legion Y920 has made me a believer in Lenovo as a gaming laptop company. Priced at $2,299, the Legion Y920 offers some seriously powerful performance, thanks to its Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU -- both of which are overclockable if you want to push the envelope. The system's proprietary customizable keyboard is almost as pretty as its incredibly vivid Nvidia G-Sync display. Throw in a pair of thunderous speakers, and you've got a system that has earned a place among the upper echelon of gaming laptops.
This laptop might have a new name, but it's just as sexy as its predecessor, the IdeaPad Y900. The lid and undercarriage are still made of black brushed aluminum with a pronounced cross-hatch pattern. The lid has a pair of glossy black plastic accents, which draw the eye to the bright-red Y in the center, sort of like a reverse Louboutin.
Along the system's interior is a black raised rubberized palm rest with a cross-hatch pattern that's similar to the exterior aluminum finish. A backlit red touchpad adds a bit of much-needed visual contrast. Directly above is the full-sized mechanical keyboard, sending cascades of red light rippling across with every keystroke.
At the top of the system lies the decorative black metallic grille with a red underlay. The central part of the grille is slightly elevated with a glowing red backlit piece of plastic. The sides of the deck are swathed in black soft-touch finish with the power button residing in the upper-right corner.
Measuring 16.8 x 12.1 x 1.4 inches, the 10.1-pound Y920 is a real heavyweight compared to its competitors. It's heavier than the Asus ROG G752VS OC Edition (10 pounds, 16.4 x 12.7 x 1.9 inches), Alienware 17 R4 (9.6 pounds, 16.7 x 13.1 x 1.2 inches), the Gigabyte P57Xv7 (7.2 pounds, 16.7 x 11.4 x 1.1 inches) and the superthin Asus ROG Zephyrus (5 pounds, 14.9 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches).
Ports: Everything you need
As befitting a battlestation of its caliber, the Legion Y920 has a slew of ports, including a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the right with a 4-in-1 card reader, jacks for a microphone and headset, and a secure lock slot with a divot to activate OneKey Recovery in case of a system crash.
On the left, there are two more USB 3.0 ports, full-HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort ports, Thunderbolt 3, Gigabit Ethernet and a proprietary charging port.
Lenovo equipped the Legion Y920 with a 1920 x 1080 panel befitting a premium gaming rig. The 17.3-inch anti-glare screen is simultaneously bright, stunningly vivid and accurate. Even better, the system has Nvidia's G-Sync technology. That means when I was fighting my way through a horde of angry Kett on ultra settings, the tech made sure the display's refresh rate was in sync with the graphics card for buttery-smooth graphics, high frame rates and no latency.
The Black Panther trailer was a feast for the eyes. I ogled the Dora Milaje as they stood tall in their crimson-red uniforms with gleaming gold accents. The warrior women's brown skin drew my eye and held it long enough for me to take stock of the intricate rings in their necklaces. Gaming was just as pretty. Exploring the rainy, dying world of Havarl in Mass Effect: Andromeda, I marveled at the bright-pink, fern-like foliage with its delicate fronds.
The Y920's screen is nice and vivid, reproducing 119 percent of the sRGB gamut. That's slightly below the 122 desktop-replacement average, but was still better than the Zephyrus (114 percent), Alienware 17 (113 percent), G752VS (112 percent) and P57Xv7 (112 percent).
This screen also proved to be fairly accurate, returning a Delta-E score of 0.3 (0 is ideal), topping the 1.3 average, the G752VS' 2.1 and the Alienware 17's 0.5. However, the P57Xv7 and Zephyrus proved even more precise at 0.19 and 0.21, respectively.
Averaging 362 nits of brightness, the Legion Y920's display is a shining beacon, outperforming the 290-nit category average along with the Alienware 17 (340 nits), P57Xv7 (314 nits) and Zephyrus (253 nits). Still, the G752 proved to be the brightest, at a blinding 476 nits.
Rocking a pair of JBL speakers and a bottom-mounted subwoofer, the Legion Y920 flooded my room with plaintive piano, lush bass and a high-pitched Nina Simone sample on Jay-Z's "The Story of O.J." As the song continued, the rapper's blunt soliloquy on racial inequities seemed that much more cutting with the Dolby Home Theater software enabled. Although there's a profile for music (as well as gaming, voice and movies), I found that the dynamic setting delivered the optimal audio experience.
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When I engaged in a firefight during Mass Effect: Andromeda, a well-placed shot from my sniper rifle produced a nice crack, followed by a hefty explosion from the volatile canister I hit. Despite all the din from the battle, I could still hear when my character barked orders at her squad, moving them into position to cut off the enemy flank.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Lenovo has brought its keyboard know-how and applied it to the Legion Y920. The company's proprietary mechanical keyboard offers great vertical travel at 1.7 millimeters (1.5 to 2 is optimal) with 70 grams of springy actuation (60 g is minimum). The experience is made even more comfortable by the raised, rubberized palm rest that gave some much-needed support to my wrists.
As I wrote the review, the slightly concave, backlit keys shone brightly and had a clicking noise similar to what'd you'd expect from a Cherry MX brown keyboard. I managed to reach 72 words per minute on the 10FastFingers typing test, which is higher than my usual 65 wpm.
The company has also added a couple of gamer-friendly buttons to the keyboard, including Turbo, which lets you instantly overclock the processor and graphics card. You also have a video record button in case you want to capture some of your greatest gaming highlights.
The 4.1 x 2.7-inch Synaptics touchpad was nice and spacious, and responsive to boot. Using a three-finger tap to summon Cortana was a breeze, as was switching between open apps with a three-finger swipe.
Lenovo has finally joined modern times. Similar to Razer and MSI, you can now customize the colors (16.8 million) on your Legion Y920 down to the individual keys, and trick it out with some fun effects. And similar to Alienware systems, you can choose hues for the plastic LED strips surrounding the touchpad and the top of the deck.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
The Legion Y920 is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of video memory, which is a step below the more powerful GTX 1080 GPU. But that doesn't mean that the Legion can't bring the big frame rates. On the contrary, the laptop kept pace with its competitors and pulled ahead in some cases.
On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Legion Y920 hit 59 frames per second on Very High settings at 1080p. That's enough to surpass the 53-fps average as well as the 55 and 50 fps scored by the GTX 1070-laden Asus G752VS and Gigabyte P57Xv7. The Zephyrus and its underclocked Nvidia GTX 1080 Max-Q GPU barely eked out a win with 58 fps. But ultimately, the Alienware 17 and its full-fledged GTX 1080 GPU took the victory with 62 fps.
Switching over to the Hitman test, the Legion Y920 delivered an impressive 107 fps, sailing past the 81-fps desktop-replacement average. The G752VS achieved 91 fps while the P57Xv7 and Zephyrus notched 76 and 68 fps, respectively. However, the Alienware 17 produced 110 fps.
For the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, the Legion Y900 scored 72 fps, matching the P57Xv7 and just beating the 70-fps category average. The G752VS did a little better at 73 fps, while the Zephyrus and Alienware 17 notched 78 fps and 82 fps, respectively.
As its 10-series GPU suggests, the Legion Y920 is just as capable of supporting your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift as it is running Tekken 7 or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. When we ran the SteamVR Performance test, the Legion Y920 hit 10.6, topping the 9.2 average and the G752VS' 10.4. The Zephyrus and Alienware 17 achieved 10.7 and 10.9, respectively.
In those moments when you're not gaming, when you're watching videos or putting some polish on your Attack on Titan fanfic, know that the Legion Y920 has you covered. Thanks to its 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK processor with 16GB of RAM, the system can multitask with the best of them. I watched an episode of Glow while running a system scan with 20 open tabs running in Google Chrome, some of which included TweetDeck, Twitch or Slack. But in case you need even more productivity power, you can overclock the CPU for that boost.
The notebook also did well on our synthetic tests, scoring 14,051 on Geekbench 4, surpassing the 12,851 desktop-replacement average. It also topped the Alienware 17 (14,154), which also has a Core i7-7820HK CPU, as well as the Zephyrus (13,391) and P57Xv7 (12,387), which both pack 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPUs. The Alienware 17 (Intel Core i7-7820HK CPU) managed to stave off the Legion Y920 with 14,154.
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During our file copy test, the Legion Y920's 512GB PCIe SSD (and 1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive) took 8 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files, which translates to a transfer rate of 636.2 megabytes per second. It easily defeated the Zephyrus' (512GB M.2 PCIe SSD) 508.9 MBps, Alienware 17's (512GB SSD) 282 MBps and the P57Xv7's (256GB M.2 PCIe SSD) 137 MBps. But the G752VS and its 256GB SSD managed to deliver a scorching 727 MBps.
If you think you want to game or do anything else for more than 3 hours, you'll want to make sure you're close to a power outlet.
On our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi), the Y920 tapped out at 3 hours and 2 seconds, which is below the 4:17 desktop-replacement average. Still, that's better than the Alienware 17, P57Xv7 and Zephyrus, none of which lasted 3 hours. The G752VS finished at 3:53.
Heat: Cool When Gaming
It'll take more than an Angarian ambush to make the Legion Y900 lose its cool. After 15 minutes of intergalactic exploration and skirmishes, the notebook's touchpad measured 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
The center of the laptop hit 88 degrees, while the undercarriage rose to 89 degrees. None of the temperatures came close to surpassing our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The 720p integrated webcam does take grainy shots and video, but it will do in a pinch for broadcasting. Despite the fuzziness of my test shots, I could clearly read the Laptop Labs sign in the background and see the ringlets in my hair. The images also exhibited accurate colors, showing off my blouse's exact shade of teal.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo's Nerve Center is the hub for all of your gamer-centric tasks, including adjusting clock speed for the CPU and GPU as well as fan speed. You can also customize the keyboard backlighting in this utility. If you need more gaming software, the system also features Nvidia GeForce Experience, which offers a suite of apps designed to enhance your experience, including extending battery life.
The company's usual cache of companion software makes an appearance on the Legion Y920, including Companion, which lets you check system diagnostics. There's also Settings, which which is good for tweaking audio, display and battery options.
The system also features some third-party bloatware, courtesy of Windows 10, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Asphalt 8, Fallout Shelter, Drawboard PDF and Twitter.
After years of being an also-ran, Lenovo is finally putting its best foot forward when it comes to gaming. The $2,299 Lenovo Legion Y920 is a revelation, delivering win after win with its overclockable CPU and GPU, excellent keyboard, radiant display and triumphant speakers. My only gripes are the weight and the lack of a GTX 1080 GPU option.
If you're looking for a laptop with a bit more power and overall flair, check out the Alienware 17 ($2,549) with its full-fledged GTX 1080 GPU or the wafer-thin Asus Zephyrus ($2,699) and its Max-Q GPU, both of which offer more power on the gaming front. But if you want an elegant system that can kick some serious ass, you can't go wrong with the Legion Y920.
Photo credit: Shaun Lucas/LaptopMag